Parsley Spotlight: Growing, Harvesting, Recipes & More

Fresh Parsley Gardenuity Herb Box

Parsley may be one of the most unappreciated herbs around. We all know what it is, have seen in on Instagram posts accessorizing beautiful food shots and have come to appreciate it for its beauty. But this well-know aromatic herb with a host of health benefits and a subtle green flavor is also one of the easiest herbs to grow and can make anyone feel like an expert gardener.

Parsley is a member of the carrot family and has earned the reputation for cleansing the palate, and refreshing your breath after a meal.

Packed with vitamins C and A, folate, and iron, parsley is the intensely healthy herb that’s perfect for garnishing, pestos, soups, and Mediterranean cuisine. With a mildly bitter flavor that brightens flavors and balances savory dishes, it’s a great herb to have on-hand.

Grow fresh parsley indoors, on the patio, or in a garden bed. Wherever you choose, parsley is an adaptable and hardy herb to grow and a delight to have around. A stable to every herb garden.

Parsley is generally referred to as a culinary herb and often overlooked as a bouquet herb or even cocktail herb. The botanical names for parsley are Curly-leaved: Petroselinum and Flat-leaved: Petroselinum. Flat-leaved parsley is often referred to as Italian parsley and has a more subtle taste that aligns perfectly with so many of todays favorite recipes.

Parsley is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean regions and grows with a long taproot and supporting secondary roots.

This complete guide to growing parsley covers indoor and outdoor gardens, spring and fall planting, and harvesting tips.

When to Plant Parsley

Parsley can be planted as soon as the soil has warmed up to at least 65 degrees. Parsley is a frost tolerant plant that handles the cold weather well. Parsley is a biennial, this means it will only come back after two gardening seasons. As a biennial, parsley offers delicious leaves its first year, and goes to seed in its second year.

If you are planting from seed it is important to note that Parley is slow to germinate — it will take at least 3 weeks for the plants to sprout.

Alternatively, you can start your parsley seeds indoors about 2.5 – 3 months before the last frost, giving you larger plants to begin the growing season with.

Since Parsley seeds are slow to germinate it is recommended to soak the seeds for 24 hours in lukewarm water prior to planting. This will hasten sprouting.

Where to Plant Parsley

Almost no matter where you’re located, you can grow parsley. Most locations across the United States are amiable to growing parsley in spring.

How to Plant Parsley

Planting parsley from fully rooted healthy transplants is easy. Remember to water the parsley at least an hour before transplanting, this will reduce water stress and help the soil cling to the roots. Dig holes in the loosened soil at least twice as wide and just as deep as the parsley root ball. If the roots are tangled massage them with your fingers prior to planting. Keep the top of the root ball level with the surface of the ground and gently fill in the soil around the root ball.

How to Grow Parsley in Containers

Parsley Gardenuity Container Garden

Growing parsley in containers is a great option for those without a backyard. Grow in well-draining containers on your patio, fire escape, or porch. Use a soil-less potting mix and plant seeds about 1/4 inch deep, 1-2 inches apart.

Be sure to choose a location that gets enough sun, and watch your herb garden thrive!

For more information on container gardening, you can turn to our complete guide to container gardening.

How to Grow Parsley Indoors

Parsley Herb Box

Because of its hardy nature and decorative appeal, parsley is a popular herb to grow indoors. The key to successful indoor growing is to ensure that your parsley gets enough light. Look for the brightest light possible in your home — most often found by a window sill — to nourish healthy parsley plants.

Parsley can be planted and grown year-round indoors. No need to wait until spring.

Poisonous Varieties of Parsley

While there are about 30 different types of parsley that are commonly used by humans, there are also varieties of parsley that are poisonous and should not be consumed. When you’re planting your parsley garden, be sure to stay away from Hemlock, or Poison Parsley. Even when picking parsley varieties such as Cow Parsley, do so with great care, as it grows alongside the deadly Hemlock variety. 

Parsley Varieties to Plant and Grow

When it comes to kitchen parsley, there are two common varieties: curly leaf and flat-leaf.

Curly leaf parsley is the milder version of parsley. It’s often used for garnish and good for immediate use, drying, and freezing.

Flat leaf parsley variations, such as Italian Parsley, are used mostly for cooking. With a deeper flavor than curly leaf, it’s used in soups, pestos, and more.

Soil Needs

Gardenuity Quality Soil

The soil is your parsley’s home. Creating a good soil environment is imperative for fostering good growth. Soil should be between 68 and 80° F throughout parsley’s grow. Choose loamy, rich soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.7. Pack with compost and organic matter to improve the quality.

Sun Needs

Parsley does well in both full-sun and part-sun. Parsley needs at least 4 hours of sunlight to thrive.

Parsley Watering Needs

Water your parsley consistently and regularly throughout the summer — about 1-2 inches per week. Be especially consistent and generous with water while you parsley is germinating. Check the top inch of your soil daily — if it’s dry, water.

Check out our complete watering guide for specifics.

Parsley Companion Plants

Parsley thrives when planted alongside asparagus, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, chives, and onions. Parsley will enhance the flavor of these veggies and the oil in parsley acts as a natural pest repellent.

If you have a rose garden try planting some parsley with your roses. It will help enhance the fragrance of the rose blooms.

Avoid planting parsley alongside lettuce.

Pests & Diseases To Watch Out For

Crown and root rot and leaf spot are the most frequent issues with parsley. These diseases are caused by wet soil that favors bacterial growth. If parsley becomes infected, remove the damaged plants, thin to improve air circulation, and refrain from overhead watering.

Additionally, watch out for black swallowtail larvae, carrot fly, and celery fly larvae. If infested, apply a gentle insecticide and watch carefully.

How to Harvest Parsley

Parsley Harvest

When the leaf stems have at least three segments and/or the plant is about 6 inches tall, your parsley is ready to harvest. To harvest parsley, cut leaves from the outer portions of the plant. Never take more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. Be sure to leave the inner portions to mature, so you have continuous harvests to come.

To store parsley, put leaf stalk in water and keep in the fridge. Alternatively, dry or freeze parsley. Dried parsley can be a great, easy way to season food and has a very long shelf life.

Life Span of Parsley

Parsley will die when the weather freezes. In mild enough climates, parsley will live through the winter since it is frostproof. If your parsley survives to its second spring, the plant will bloom and go to seed.

Once parsley goes to seed, the leaves will taste bitter. When you see flower stalks, pull the plants out of the ground and compost.

Parsley Herb Garden

How to Chop Parsley for Cooking

Depending on how you want to make use of your herbs, the method of chopping has a great effect on how the flavors of the plant shine through in a recipe. Find step-by-step instructions by Feel Good Foodie for chopping your parsley below:

Time needed: 1 minute

How To Chop Parsley For Cooking

  1. Wash Parsley

    Take the freshly washed parsley you’ll use in your recipe, line up the leaves, and use a sharp knife to cut off right where the stems become thicker.

  2. Grab Knife

    Hold your knife in one hand, and keep the tip of the knife on the cutting board. Place the palm of your other hand on the top of the knife. 

  3. Begin Chopping Parsley

    Begin chopping the parsley with a fast up and down motion. Continue until the parsley is well chopped

Health Benefits from Eating Parsley

This leafy, green herb is widely used for decoration in the world of culinary arts. Parsley also has several health benefits that will have you considering starting your very own herb garden today. Take a look: 

  • High in Vitamin K
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Protects your eye health
  • Supports bone health

Parsley Recipes

Parsley leaves are flavorful but the taproot of the parsley plant is edible and is actually the most pungent and flavorful part of the plant.

Parsley is that one undercover herb that goes just about anywhere. Here are some fantastic recipes that will have you flying through your parsley harvest:

  1. Parsley Pesto Pasta Recipe – This recipe can be made in under 30 minutes, and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. A spin on the classic pesto dish, liven things up by adding parsley to the mix.
  2. Arugula Salad with Parsley & Lemon Vinaigrette – Enjoy your greens even more with this tangy salad that will definitely be getting you through the workweek. Find out how the peppery spice of arugula combined with the pucker of lemon are complimented perfectly by the addition of fresh parsley.
  3. Parsley Tea – You can appreciate your parsley harvest by brewing your very own cup of hot tea. Not only is this a delicious option, but it also is great for your health; parsley tea is rich, delicious, and full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Take a look at this recipe by Healthline, below: 
    1. Start by boiling one cup of water in a small pot or saucepan.
    2. Next, prepare the parsley by rinsing off 1/4 cup (15 grams) of fresh parsley and chopping it up.
    3. Alternatively, you can also use two tablespoons (1 gram) of dried parsley.
    4. Add dried or fresh parsley to the bottom of your cup and pour the hot water over it, allowing it to steep for 5–10 minutes.
    5. Finally, use a mesh strainer to remove the parsley leaves before enjoying your hot tea.
    6. Parsley tea can be consumed as is, or you can add a bit of honey, lemon juice, or sugar to spice things up.

Unique Uses for Parsley

Parsley truly is one of the most accessible herbs out there. That said, it’s not rare to feel that you simply have too much of it! Take a look at these three creative uses for your parsley that will make you feel like you never had enough in the first place:

  1. Use your parsley in a smoothie
  2. Use your parsley in a herbal bouquet for your dining room
  3. Make a garlic + parsley butter – Also known as, “Beurre Maître d’Hôtel” in French, this is butter ( ½ cup), fresh lemon juice (a tablespoon), garlic (1-2 cloves, minced finely), and finely chopped parsley (¼ cup) all creamed together — start with the butter alone, then slowly add the rest, in the order stated above. You can even a little lemon zest.

Additionally, you can decorate with parsley! Using spare freshly harvested parsley is a great way to bring greenery to any room. If you are needing some quick decor for your home office or kitchen countertop, freshly harvested parsley is your answer. It lasts for a week or more if you change out the water daily.

Grow Pros Most Frequently Asked Questions about Parsley

What is the difference between regular parsley and Italian parsley?

he general makeup of the flat-leaf (regular parsley) and curly leaf (italian parsley) varieties of parsley is relatively the same, but don’t be fooled about their likeness. The two varieties have distinct differences in flavor, which are caused by the balance of the compounds menthatriene, phellandrene, myristicin, and myrcene. The balance of these compounds greatly differs between the flat and curly parsley variations, and it gives regular parsley a much bolder taste than its counterpart. 

Can Rabbits Eat Parsley?

Yes, parsley is perfectly safe for your rabbit to eat for dinner.

Can cats eat parsley?

Yes, parsley is a great way to add some greenery to your cat’s diet. Take a look at this list of herbs that are also safe for your feline friend to consume. 

Is cow parsley poisonous?

Cow parsley, when its leaves are young, is not poisonous to consume. That said, it grows alongside its many poisonous relatives, such as Poison Parsley, so it is best to avoid consuming this variation of parsley. 

Can Dogs eat parsley?

Yes, dogs can safely eat parsley. In fact, it’s a great source of vitamins for your furry friend as well. To learn more about what herbs are safe for dogs to eat, take a look at this article

Can you freeze Parsley?

Yes, you can freeze your parsley! Just chop up the amount that you’d like to save, place it in a freezer-safe container, and throw it in the freezer. Voila.

What is the best temperature to grow Parsley?

Parsley does best between 40 and 80 degrees.

Is Parsley a perennial or annual?

Perennials are plants that grow back each year, and annuals are plants that die after one season. Parsley is a biennial which means it will come back after two gardening seasons.

Herb Garden